Digesting Cibophobia – The Fear of Food
Do you categorically avoid eating and drinking? Does the thought of sitting down for a meal scare the living daylights off you?
Millions of people suffer from a wide range of phobias. So a cheesy slice of pizza that most people enjoy can trigger a panic attack in some people. It is most likely because they suffer from a fear of food.
A Phobia of Fear or Disgust?
Strange as it might seem, fear of food is real. If you’re wondering what is the fear of food is called, it is Cibophobia. Anxiety over food can evolve into an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Let us decode it and learn how to cope with Cibophobia.
What is Cibophobia?
What phobia is the fear of food? Cibophobia defined as a fear of food is a complex phobia that can evolve into an obsession. People who suffer from Cibophobia typically avoid meals because they are fearful of the food itself. The phobia may be limited to a particular type of food, or it may involve a variety of foods.
People who have this phobia are often misidentified as having anorexia, an eating disorder. However, those suffering from anorexia are anxious about the impact of food on their body whilst those suffering from Cibophobia are scared of the food. Some may have both disorders triggered at the same time.
Cibophobia usually follows a pattern. Some people are scared of perishable foods like dairy. Others are afraid of undercooked meat or products that are nearing their expiry dates. This might be related to an experience with eating these perishable food products, which resulted in food poisoning or digestive problems. When presented with phobic stimuli, the brain recalls those experiences.
Some individuals who suffer from Cibophobia are scared to cook, while others refuse to consume food prepared by others.
Phobia and aversion to food, eating, or consuming fluids can also result from an unpleasant or traumatizing incident. This could include choking, purging, or other bodily functions after eating or drinking. Some people have this phobia even after they reach adulthood. Cibophobia causes are frequently linked to anorexia, bulimia, and other behavioral and eating disorders.
Cibophobia can result in several health problems, psychological disorders, and emotional turmoil.
It can also be caused by anxiety about developing a sensitivity or allergy to certain foods. What starts as a mere aversion combined with other unaddressed mental health issues may develop into a fear of food phobia, over time, causing increased anxiety and disturbance in everyday life.
Symptoms of Cibophobia
After all, as humans, we rely on food to survive. It provides us with the essential nutrients required for our health and wellbeing. A fear of food can lead to other issues that impact a person’s life adversely. Cibophobia sufferers experience a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms as a result of their condition. Some of these are listed below:
● Body Dysmorphia
● Bulimia Nervosa
● Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
● Inability to concentrate
● Panic Attacks
● Behavioral Issues
● Chest pain
● Excessive sweating
● Rapid heartbeat
● Difficulty breathing
● Stomach cramps
● Unhealthy weight loss
● Low bone density
● Memory loss
Coping with Cibophobia
As previously discussed, the major problem with having fear of food is that it may impact your dietary intake. Consequently, the likelihood of having other mental and physical health issues may increase. That is why it is critical to learn how to cope with Cibophobia to overcome your fear and live a healthy life.
Self Help – What Can You Do to Help Yourself?
When it comes to being afraid of food, try some of the following tips to be mentally and physically healthy:
● Change your perspective about food
● Face your aversion to some foods
● Experiment with new foods
● Allow yourself to eat out
● Let someone else prepare your meals
● Talk to someone about your phobia
In addition to this, you can cope with anxiety caused by Cibophobia in many ways. Certain lifestyle adjustments have been shown to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Practicing meditation, for example, has been found to improve stress management and promote calmness.
Breathing and mindfulness exercises can also help with symptoms of agitation, rage, anxiety, and depression. Regulated and mindful breathing can assist to control your central nervous system and reduce the stress-inducing effects of your phobia.
Seeking Professional Help – The Options Available
Dealing with a phobia or any mental health problem can be difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone. You can always talk to the people you trust. Joining support groups for certain mental health problems could also be helpful.
Phobias need to be taken seriously or they may turn into severe cases of anxiety disorders. It is critical to get Cibophobia treatment from a mental health specialist. Treatments may include:
This carefully controlled & progressive therapy exposes you to the foods that scare you. You can learn to control your anxiety and responses in a supportive environment with this therapy.
Treatment may include desensitization, which involves progressively introducing the feared food until the patient is no longer afraid of eating it. The patient may be requested to perform a set of actions, such as touching the food, sitting close to it, bringing it close to their mouth, chewing and swallowing it.
Another alternative is hypnotherapy. It enables a practitioner to interact with a patient’s subconscious to discover fears and thoughts. They will then work with you to overcome these assumptions.
Your brain is susceptible to reconditioning in this deeply calm state. A hypnotherapist may give recommendations or provide verbal cues to enable you to minimize your unpleasant responses to food.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most commonly used treatment for phobias and other anxiety disorders. This treatment entails discussing your feelings and food experiences with a mental health specialist. Your therapist will work with you to identify and alter any underlying perceptions you have about the food you are afraid of.
Your doctor will advise you on which medicines are appropriate for you. Specific phobias may necessitate the use of antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines.
These medications may be able to alleviate the anxiety symptoms linked with your phobia. Your doctor may prescribe something for a short period and then have you taper off the prescription when your anxiety decreases to a reasonable level.
How to Avoid Cibophobia Altogether
Avoiding Cibophobia altogether depends on the type of food you fear. However, some of these general tips might help:
● Avoiding keeping dairy products at home
● Avoid meat and poultry
● Buy the ingredients yourself
● Make sure you are buying the freshest of products
● Check expiry dates carefully
● Wash and sanitize your fruits and vegetables
● Never store leftovers in the refrigerator
● Always keep a close eye on your meal
● Steer clear from foods that trigger your phobia
● Avoid eating out when you do not know what goes into the food
● Bring your own food if you are eating out
● Get your food allergies and sensitivities checked by a professional
Wrapping It Up
Several factors contribute to Cibophobia. There are also several therapeutic alternatives available to alleviate your symptoms. If you feel that your Cibophobia is interfering with your everyday life, particularly preventing you from eating and getting proper nourishment, make an appointment with a medical professional immediately.
This is a vital first step in receiving diagnosis and effective therapy. It can help you in overcoming your fears and developing a positive attitude towards food. Give yourself the time and help you need to overcome your phobia. Things shall improve with time.